Toddler Meal: Healthy Ketchup


tomatoesKetchup, the wonder condiment, has saved many a toddler mommy's sanity at dinnertime. If only it wasn't so high in sugar, particularly the extra yucky high fructose corn syrup kind.

Today, mom blogger Ann-Marie Nichols, who writes about children's cooking and book activities at, comes through with a recipe for healthy homemade ketchup. She's been a huge fan of ketchup ever since her formerly picky former toddler, Nathan (now 8), refused to eat hard food that wasn't drenched in the stuff.

"He'd gag and potentially vomit up anything that wasn't slimy, squishy or creamy," Nichols says of her son, who was born a preemie and was in the 10th percentile for weight as a toddler. "He refused to eat crackers, cereal and even cookies."


A therapist suggested dipping snacks in ketchup. Nichols started with thin pretzels, followed by all kinds of things. Today, Nathan is normal weight eats a variety of foods.

Nichols only wished she'd had this recipe for healthy, homemade ketchup back then. Of course, there's nothing wrong will pulling out the Heinz for moderate squirts. But this recipe contains carrot puree and no high fructose corn syrup, so you won't feel guilty about slathering toddler-size portions on everything your child refuses to eat.

Healthy Homemade Ketchup

(from Jessica Seinfeld's Deceptively Delicious)

You'll need:

1 (6-ounce) can of tomato puree

½ cup carrot puree*

¼ cup water

2 tbs apple-cider vinegar

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbs firmly packed light or dark brown sugar (optional)

½ teaspoon dry mustard

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp ground allspice

¼ tsp chili powder, or to taste

Make it:

*Carrot Puree

Prep:    Peel a few carrots, trim the ends, and cut into three-inch chunks.

Cook:   Steam for 10 to 12 minutes.

Puree:   In a food processor or blender for about two minutes, with a few teaspoons of water if needed for a smoother texture.


1.     Stir all the ingredients together in a big saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

2.     Reduce the heat and simmer until the mixture has reduced by about half, 10-20 minutes.

3.     Let cool before serving.

4.      Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to five days or freeze in ¼-cup amounts in zipper-lock snack bags for up to three months.

Tip: Use the ketchup, either by itself or added to plain yogurt, as a dip for crackers, pretzels, or veggie sticks.

Tip: Use it as a "paint" to decorate food. Use a veggie stick or plastic knife to paint the ketchup on to a piece of bread, a veggie burger, or a sliced cheese or deli meat -- either you or your toddler can do the painting. Nichols' 5-year-old daughter, Lucie, loves when she uses ketchup to make a smiley face on a slice of turkey bologna. Plus, kids are more likely to eat something that they helped make!

Check back next Thursday for another great recipe. Got a favorite toddler friendly meal or snack of your own to share? Let me know about it and I may feature it here!

food, health


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RanaA... RanaAurora

That's a great idea.  If you can't make your own, it's also beneficial to look for "organic" or "natural" ketchup to avoid the same things.  Reading labels is your FRIEND!

If you wanted to, you could substitute the carrot puree with carrot baby food.

Cafe... Cafe Cynthia

That's an awesome idea about the carrot baby food. Thanks for sharing that!

Lokis... LokisMama

Thats's a really nifty recipe, good to know.  I wish my son WOULD eat ketchup though.  Weird chid that he is, my two year old will eat barbeque sauce, ranch dressing and the zesty onion ring sauce from Burger King, but he dons't like ketchup.

twinc... twinclubmom

I've always added pureed carrots and/or squash to ketchup. Any way I can sneak more veggies in the better!

Liqui... LiquidVitamins

We buy organic ketchup to avoid the high fructose corn syrup, however, my toddler won't have anything to do with ketchup.  Any suggestions for a toddler that picky?

catng... catngabsmom

i just buy the organic ketchup!! i dont have the time or the patience to start making home made condiments. dinner and lunchboxes is enough most days.

Lumin... LuminousMom

awesome! I love to cook and I have a recipe for ketchup thats very similar to store bought.. but it has 1/2 cup sugar sugar instead of corn syrup and so.. kinda defeats the purpose of making a healthier version. I will have to try this recipe!

RanaA... RanaAurora

If you like the sneaking stuff in tricks, check out the book "The Sneaky Chef."  It's all about hiding purees in food to make them significantly healthier.

uluru uluru

this is a great recipe...we tend to easily purchase foods from the store that seem innocent...but really contain evil! seriously, it's the lables...if you can't pronounce them.....not good!!

NooYawka NooYawka

While not exactly ketchup, a really underrated food that is naturally sweet and has a similar consistency (esp. if you thin it with a little water) is tomato paste. I could eat it with a spoon right out of the can. Low in calories, high in vitamins it's nothing but pure, concentrated tomatoes.

Or is that just me and everyone else thinks it's disgusting? Always a possibility...

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